While the phrase could refer to friends, family or co-workers, in this case it’s a cookie we discovered in Sicily. Having now experimented with several recipes, I have a version to recommend.
These are very easy and would be a nice addition to the Thanksgiving menu as they are light, gluten free and delicious.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (aka filberts), about 8 ounces
3/4 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar — I use Whey Low sugar substitute* Note: this yields slightly sweet cookies. If you prefer more sweetness, increase to 1 cup of sugar.
Pinch of salt
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for about 10-12 minutes until they are fragrant, lightly toasted and the skins blister. Remove and transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel to cool. Then rub them together in the towel to remove the skins. Warning: this is messy!
Lower the oven heat to 300 degrees F.
Pulse nuts in a food processor until roughly chopped. You want some big pieces. (Alternatively, crush them in a bowl– takes longer but avoids pulverizing into dust.)
Transfer nuts to a bowl and mix in the sugar and salt.
Whip the egg white on high setting in a stand mixture until soft peaks form and then gradually add vanilla, continuing to whip until you get medium-firm peaks. Stir this into the hazelnut-sugar mixture.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon generous-sized dollops of the “dough”, leaving 1″ of space between cookies. They don’t spread much, if at all. Cookies can be any size you want; this amount will make about 8 large (3″) cookies or over a dozen smaller ones.
Bake at 300 for 30 minutes until golden, then lower the heat to 200 and bake for another 15 minutes so they dry out and are crisp and not sticky.
Cool before serving.
*A note on Whey Low. Developed for the inventor’s diabetic wife, this genius product is significantly lower in calories and glycemic index than sugar and tastes/cooks the same so no complicated calculations are needed. Only caveat: it’s pricey.
If you’re like me, the concept of “family” is complicated. The family we’re born into may be less than ideal, incorporating fraught relationships with parents or siblings. Even in families with a relatively healthy dynamic, there’s often a tendency to act or be treated as if we are eternally eight years old.
As we get older, our definition of family expands and changes. Lines blur as our children become friends, close friends become more like siblings, and siblings may become strangers.
Since Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s typically associated with family, let’s celebrate ALL our families, not just our biological ones:
Circumstantial: The family we join through marriage or re-marriage
Work: After all, we probably spend at least as much time with our “work family” as we do at home
Friends: Who else could we bitch to about everything — including our families?!
Support System: Our family of stylists, massage therapists, manicurists etc., with whom we share stories and confidences
Our church, synagogue, mosque or other religious affiliation
This is one of my favorite recipes for dessert, whether you’re hosting or bringing something to the feast. Almond flour and Whey Low make it healthier.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone — however (and with whomever) you spend it!
Double Chocolate Almond Flour Brownies
1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use 4 tablespoons (¼ c) butter + ¼ c canola oil)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (substitute bittersweet if you prefer less sweetness)
1 cup almond flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar (I use 1/3 c brown + 1/3 c white for less sweetness)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Optional: ¼ teaspoon espresso powder
Preheat the oven to 350º and butter an 8”x8” pan.
Place the butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or a large glass bowl set over a pot of gently boiling water. Whisk together until the butter and chocolate are melted and well combined. Set aside and let cool for five minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.
Add the cooled chocolate and butter mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Whisk to combine and then mix into the dry ingredients until everything is well blended.
Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.